The Importance of Sharing Science Based Health, Nutrition, and Food Safety Science Information Through Social Media

By: Kimberly Reed   Date: 4/8/10

Today, I spent an hour with some very knowledgeable people who really care about consumers and shared an important message with them:  ALL CONSUMERS COUNT!  In today's world, no customer is too small, and social media is a powerful way to connect with them on a personal level to share important information.   

Specifically, I was a guest speaker at the 2010 GMA Consumer Complaints Conference on the topic of reaching and engaging consumers through social media.  As an example, I shared the story of the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation's communications transformation over the past six months and how we have joined the social media conversation.

Our mission at the Foundation is to effectively communicate science based information on health, nutrition, and food safety for the public good.  By stepping up our communications tools - including through this blog and our new Web site, Twitter handles(IFICMedia & FoodInsightOrg,) YouTube channel and Facebook page - we have been able to further our mission more easily by using social media tools to share helpful information on everything from calorie counting tips to choking prevention to the benefits of breakfast to our Foundation's comments to President's Task Force on Childhood Obesity and the First Lady's Let's Move Initiative on our research and efforts.  It's important to become part of the dialog, as people will talk through social media . . . with or without you.

It's also is important to help your stakeholders have the information they seek delivered to them - and you should make it easy for them.  For example, our award-winning Food Insight Newsletter is now delivered monthly to your inbox, and, if you do not receive it already, you can do so here.  (You also can visit our main Web page and click the orange arrow on right hand side mid-screen where it says: "Food Insight. Sign up for the Newsletter.")

Our Foundation also is embracing social media tools to spread science based information on food and health.  Next week, we'll host the second of what we hope to be regular Twitter chats.  The chat will be on Thursday April 15th at 1:00 ET and feature expert Tami Ross, RD, LD, CDE answering questions and offering advice on diabetes.  You can follow along with the hashtag: #foodinsight and we'll post a transcript here afterward.

In my remarks today, I encouraged the audience - which included individuals interested in improving their skills as consumer affairs representatives and team managers - to understand what their audience is reading and what is important to them.  All of us who are active in social media, when appropriate, can engage by adding comments to blogs that provide value to the conversation.  You can comment on other's posts when it covers a topic that you care about, including when new research and guidelines are issued.  And, we at the Foundation believe it is important to be respectful, personal, positive, insightful, credible, trustworthy, and friendly.

In the social media world, those who empower and inform consumers with good, quality, science and fact based content, will create strong relationships.  And, those relationships will help spread the word as you seek to tell your story and certainly can come in handy when it comes to handling complaints or sharing accurate information.